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(Special to the CRIMSON)
CLEVELAND, Ohio-After three stormy days of political debate and factional denunciations, the 3500 delegates to the Cleveland anti-war conference endorsed Sunday the programs and personnel of the Student Mobilization Committee (SMC).
Carol Lipman, SMC national secretary since July, sponsored the victorious proposal, which calls for more mass rallies during the week of April 13-18 to "bring anti-war sentiment back into the street."
The decisive moment of the conference, held at Case Western Reserve University, came when the Lipman proposal defeated a platform presented by a spontaneous coalition of more militant groups.
The radical coalition, which accused the SMC leadership of "retreating in the face of liberal, Stalinist pressures," was hurriedly formed on the convention floor when it became clear that none of the dissenting factions-Independent Radical Caucus, Revolutionary Youth Movement (RYM), Community Organizers, and Youth Against War and Fascism-had the strength alone to defeat the Lipman program.
After the final vote, the moderates shook Adelbert Gymnasium, scene of the conference, with a wild five-minute victory celebration. The Independent Front countered the moderates' chant of "Bring the Troops HomeNow!" with cries of "Bullshit! Bullshit!" The convention was uncontrollable for several minutes. Delegates attempted to seize the microphones, and fist-fights erupted in different parts of the room. Dan Siegel, the former Berkeley student body president who chaired Sunday's session, eventually brought the meeting back to order.
The chaos of the Sunday meeting was the culmination of the political battle that permeated the week-end. The majority of the conference, represented by Miss Lipman. National staff member Frank Greer, and Boston organizer Peter Camejo, contended that the SMC's November strategy of mobilizing masses of people has been successful in forcing the Nixon administration to address itself to the logistics of withdrawal.
Therefore, the majority position argued, the spring program should continue and expand the mobilization until so many of the American people are in the streets that they are impossible to ignore. The majority insisted that "non-exclusionary unity of action" around the demand of immediate withdrawal is prerequisite to successful mobilization.
The Lipman proposal designates April 13-18 as "the focus of the spring offensive." On Wednesday, April 15, "massive student strikes and actions in the colleges and high schools across the country" will be followed by "city-wide demonstrations later in the day," Miss Lipman emphasized that the spirit of the campaign should be "Bring November 15 to every possible city on April 15."
The minority coalition claimed SMC's fall mobilization was unsuccessful because Nixon's national popularity increased after he ignored the October and November demonstrations.
The radicals accused the SMC of "selling out the people to appease the liberal politicians." "RYM leader C. Clark Kissinger criticized mass marches which, he said, "cheer Mayor Lindsay while his pigs run all over Harlem, [and] boo David Hilliard [a Black Panther leader] for saying it like it is."
The minority insisted that "anti-imperialism" be the base of the spring program. "No improvement whatsoever can be made," said a Worker's League delegate, "until the anti-war movement stops aligning itself with the McCarthys and McGoverns who want "peace so that they can continue to exploit the Third World without fighting it."
The dominant theme of the minority speeches was that the anti-war movement needs "student orientation towards the working class" and "non-cooptable pro-worker demands" to be effective.
A Labor Committee spokesman said the recent General Electric strike was "more meaningful and progressive than anything SMC could ever do by itself." Speakers from RYM, International Socialists, (IS), SDS, and Progressive Labor said, "only what the worker does, and not what the student thinks, can effect the imperialist war machine."
A proponent of the Lipman proposal responded that demands couched in terms like "imperialism" and "racism" would repel many people. A RYM spokesman insisted that it was impossible to articulate the reasons for the war outside of the context of "United States corporate interests."
After the Lipman proposal had passed, the Independent Front asked for an amendment to change the central SMC slogan. "Bring All the G.I.'s Home Now." That sentiment, said a RYM speaker, is "blatant national chauvinism in that it concerns itself with American lives, and doesn't preclude the continued "Vietnamized" presence of the U.S. in Vietnam,"
The conference rejected his proposal to substitute the slogan "U.S. out of Vietnam."
Sunday afternoon, the conference heard reports and "minor proposals" from the topical workshops that were held Saturday. They only had time to listen to six of the thirteen planned reports.
The workshop on G.I. rights asked for official SMC opposition to "racism in the service, the suspension of civil rights in the service, and the prosecution of anti-war G.I.'s." The G.I. representative also urged universities to open their campuses to local G.I.'s, and urged students to make the G.I. "feel part of the movement." He said there is a "great and largely untapped potential" for activism in the armed services.
The conference-which earlier in the day had rejected a platform from the American Serviceman's Union that included the rights of disobedience to "illegal orders" collective bargaining and election of officers-heartily endorsed the workshop report.
The High School Workshop received the conference's endorsement for the High School Bill of Rights, which demands constitutional liberties for all secondary school students. Another proposal attacking the "tracking system" for causing economic segregation, was rejected.
Two proposals emerged from the Women's Liberation workshop. The majority resolution asserted that "the war exacerbates the dual oppression of women by monopolizing dollars that should go to free day-care centers, free abortion centers, and creation of more meaningful jobs for women," and asked that a day in the mobilization week be devoted to women's rights.
The conference passed this proposal over that of the IS women's caucus, which called the conference "male chauvinist from top to bottom" and argued that it was SMC's responsibility to clearly delimit the connection between the war and the oppression of women.
The IS caucus claimed that the worst discrimination at the conference was directed against the Gay Liberation Front, which received the conference's support in its "fight against America's repressive, chauvinistic gender-identity."
The last intense debate was over the reports of the Civil Disobedience and Draft workshops. Rejecting a proposal to support the New Mobilization Committee's anti-draft week (scheduled for March) and an Independent Front resolution to actively integrate civil disobedience into demonstrations, the conference passed a motion to leave tactics up to local SMC chapters. The national SMC will continue to oppose the draft and defend any member who violates draft laws.
Reactions to the conference differed, but all agreed that the mood established would help determine the direction of the anti-war movement.
Jerry Gordon, New Mobilization Committee co-chairman in the Cleveland area, greeted the conference Saturday morning by calling it "the biggest anti-war conference, and perhaps the most important assembly of youth, ever." Comedian and activist Dick Gregory said Saturday evening that coming to the conference was "the most important trip of my life."
The minority coalition called the convention "a ludicrous railroad job by YSA." A woman from the Worker's League said it was "just like the Democratic National Convention."
Co-chairman Dan Siegel said Sunday night. "I thought it was a real good convention, in terms of numbers and enthusiasm. Those who were split off were schismatized before they got here, and there was nothing we could do about it."
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